2015 has been a banner year for us—we developed our new RAKKOON app and, in the process, spoke to hundreds of parents and teens about social media. Through these conversations we learned a lot about how kids communicate with each other and how hard it can be for parents to help kids navigate this uncharted territory. Below are some of the best resources we discovered as we tried to learn more about what happens when teens interact with social media. (Yeah, we didn't find ten great articles, only nine—and it's company policy to provide useful information without filler.)

#Being13, CNN

CNN spent two years putting together this hour-long documentary on the digital lives of teens. The report included statistical information like how often teens checked their social media feeds (100 times a day, on average) and covered the subjects that teens and parents are most concerned about (social aggression, FOMO, and addiction to peer validation). Biggest takeaway for us at Team RAKKOON? This quote from sociologist Robert W. Faris:

Parent monitoring effectively erased the negative effects of online conflicts.

You can read more about our take on teens’ social media behavior and what we’re doing to help parents figure it out on our blog.

Parents: Reject Technology Shame, The Atlantic

Are you a technology Enabler, Limiter, or Mentor? This article helps parents figure out which approach they use, and why they might want to give some thought to changing that approach. Turns out how you handle your kids' use of technology can make a real difference when it comes to whether or not your kids get into trouble online. Best quote:

… it seems that keeping kids away from the digital world just makes them more likely to make bad choices once they do get online.

A Teenager’s View on Social Media, Medium

19-year-old Andrew Watts

This blog post was an eye-opener—an actual teen’s take on the landscape of social media. Here’s a sample:

If I could break down a party for you in social media terms, here’s how it would pan out:

  • You post yourself getting ready for the party, going to the party, having fun at the party, leaving at the end of the party, and waking up the morning after the party on Snapchat.

  • On Facebook you post the cute, posed pictures you took with your friends at the party with a few candids (definitely no alcohol in these photos).

  • On Instagram you pick the cutest one of the bunch to post to your network.

For us, Andrew’s most insightful comments came from his description of the pressure of social media and his yearning for real connection (read more about this on our blog.)

15 Apps and Websites Kids are Heading to After Facebook, Common Sense Media

The non-profit group Common Sense Media provided a great list of 15 apps you may not know about (but that you can bet your kids do!) The list includes the usual suspects like Snapchat and Twitter, along with some more obscure ones like ooVoo and Skout. CSM takes a measured approach to explaining the apps, and works at uncovering the upsides rather than focus solely on the scary what-ifs.

A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story

Lizzie Velasquez

This documentary, concerning the life of 25-year-old Lizzie—who went from cyber-bullying victim to anti-bullying activist—was released in September. When we talked with parents and teens during the development of our RAKKOON app, we kept hearing about how cyber-bullying is a huge concern. Lizzie’s story offers an inspiring narrative about using social media as a force for good.

Teens, Social Media & Technology, Overview 2015

This report from the Pew Research Center is exactly what it claims to be—an overview of the basic stats concerning teens, social media, and technology. It lists Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat as the most used social media platforms this year.

What Happens When a Famous Instagram Teen Stops Being Polite and Starts Getting Real, New York Magazine

This is the story of how Australian Instagram model Essena O’Neill deleted her social media accounts and took to YouTube to declare,

Social media isn't real. It's purely contrived images and edited clips ranked against each other. It's a system based on social approval, likes and dislikes, validation in views, success in followers ... it's perfectly orchestrated judgement. (sic) And it consumed me.

Our takeaway on her new stance can be found on our blog.

An American Student in Paris Reveals How Social Media Helped (and Hurt) During the Attacks, TeenVogue

Amanda Randone was in Paris on November 13. Her insights on the positive aspects of social media during the attacks (Facebook’s new Safety Check feature allowed her to let family and friends know she was unaffected) as well as the negative (social media helped spread misinformation about the attacks, as well as at least one false alarm) are perceptive and thoughtfully written.

Why Kate Winslet is Wrong About Kids and Social Media, MarketWatch

Financial news and stock quote site MarketWatch was a surprising place to find a great article on parenting kids in the age of social media. But here it is—in the context of a recent quote from Kate Winslet:

It has a huge impact on young women’s self-esteem, because all they ever do is design themselves for people to like them. And what comes along with that? Eating disorders. And that makes my blood boil and is the reason we don’t have any social media in our house.

The article’s author, Quentin Fottrell, goes on to make the point that social media isn’t the bogeyman it’s made out to be. For starters, far more teens spend time daily watching TV (58%) or listening to music (66%) than engaging with social media (45%). And what’s more, he quotes a source no less authoritative than the American Academy of Pediatrics which recently updated its recommendations to conclude that:

It’s OK for your teen to be online. Online relationships are integral to adolescent development. Social media can support identity formation.

Here at RAKKOON, our goal for the new year is to continue to help parents and teens find common ground when it comes to social media. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on issues impacting digital parenting in 2016. Happy New Year!